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Laura (Femmes Fatales) Paperback – October 1, 2005
"Devoted" by Dean Koontz
For the first time in paperback, from Dean Koontz, the master of suspense, comes an epic thriller about a terrifying killer and the singular compassion it will take to defeat him. | Learn more
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About the Author
- Item Weight : 9.8 ounces
- Paperback : 256 pages
- ISBN-13 : 978-1558615052
- ISBN-10 : 1558615059
- Product Dimensions : 5 x 0.6 x 8 inches
- Publisher : The Feminist Press at CUNY; 1st Feminist Press Ed Edition (October 1, 2005)
- Language: : English
- Best Sellers Rank: #97,008 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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NO SPOILERS, but if you've seen the movie, you will be pleased. The book adds layers and explains things without making you suddenly doubt or dislike the movie. You'll simply see that the movie is different here and there, but what's different isn't worse. I mention this because there's nothing worse than seeing the movie FIRST and then having the book ruin it for you because of how much better or different the book is.
On the other hand, the book IS a deeper look at the psyches of some of the main characters, which adds a richness to the characters that isn't present in the film. That I have to say. The book is "deeper" than the movie.
Back to just the book: The narration is clever (no spoilers) and you don't even realize how you get pulled into what should just be a pulpy murder mystery. This is way more than that. It's deeper than what "murder mystery" would imply. By the end (no spoilers!), you're thoroughly embedded in these people's lives. And, you don't even really see it coming. It starts out fairly plot-driven and shifts to something much more character-driven such that it sticks with you when you're done. I had planned, at the beginning, on jumping right to my next book after reading this one. I even had the next book set to the side. But...when I was done, I ended up needing about three days to transition, always a sign that a book has left a huge impression on me. Laura is that kind of read. It sticks with you when it's over. And...I didn't rush to re-watch the movie like I thought I would. I wanted the book's essence to last longer and to be the prevailing version of the story in my mind for a while. So, I plan to re-watch the film a bit farther down the road.
The book described a modern woman, employed, making good money, more than her male counterparts, but associated with some real losers. Which the movie sticks to.
Laura in the book is much more "normal" I guess. Not so elusive and grand.
The writing in this surprised me. It was actually pretty good. It changes perspective several times throughout, from Lydecker to McPherson, then to Laura and back to McPherson if I remember correctly. And the writing style changes each time. But it flows well and was easy to adjust to.
Really glad I finally read the original. Laura is one of my favorites and the book just adds to it.
I enjoyed the book. It is different from the movie but the basics are there. Of course, you get a deeper feel for the people and the actions in the book because you get the thought processes that are not available in the book. Waldo is a piece of work. I'm glad Laura finally sees through him and Shelby, her fiancé. Mark finally figures it all out and comes to the rescue. This really give a sense of time and place. A piece of noir. Still worth reading.
I forget how this book came up, but when I saw it, I had to read it. It took me a long time to read because I kept hearing the actors voices in my head especially Clifton Webb as Waldo Lydecker, but it only added to my enjoyment of the book. Some scenes were presented differently in the movie but didn't lose anything in the translation and the book went deeper into the relationships between the characters, but that was inevitable.
Loved the music, loved the movie and now I love the book.
Top reviews from other countries
The excellent 1944 film "Laura" by Otto Preminger is certainly a different thing from Vera Caspary's book, from which the film was adapted. I don't know about you, but I had had no i0dea - such is the way that history tends to write women out of the picture - that women writers were integral to every sub-genre of pulp fiction from the 30s to the 50s. Of course, Patrick Hamilton, a British writer working in the 30s and 40s, was equally popular with his contemporaries, and became equally forgotten - until now. Perhaps Caspary will eventually get her due, thanks to the heroic re-printers of lost fiction.
*some spoilers from here* It's really hard to describe the story without giving away important details. Laura Hunt is a successful advertising exec who lives in New York's posh Upper East Side; she is surrounded by admirers but has preferred to stay single, till now. Shocking news of her shooting starts the book off, and the story is concerned with the views and actions of her friends - particularly her catty friend Waldo Lydecker, art historian and man of letters, her fiancé, louche playboy Shelby Carpenter, and her rich aunt Mrs Treadwell - and the efforts by detective Mark McPherson to solve the crime. "Laura" has shades of melodrama and lurid psychodrama - but also, great sketches of wit, humour and really intelligent psychological insight. Caspary draws Laura's world with great economy; her characters are excellently developed; her prose clever, accomplished and smooth (though perhaps not quite so distinctive and iconic as Hammett's or Chandler's). The police work leaves much to be desired - but then Caspary wasn't interested in procedure. Throughout the various sections of this book the authorial voice switches expertly from that of Wildean Waldo, to terse, taut McPherson, to the eponymous Laura herself - each person is a flesh-and-blood, fallible, judgemental human. I've re-read the book several times and knowing `how it ends' doesn't lessen the enjoyment one whit - I hang on every word, enjoying the way her characters express themselves. It's addictive stuff, which is why it helped make such a compelling film.
Laura's is the most complex character: strong, independent, struggling for her right voice and a sense of herself in a world of men. She may have as many clothes and shoes and handbags as those modern-day chick-lit women, but she isn't defined by these things; they merely add another dimension to a self already rich in interest and occupation. Unlike in the film, Laura is something more complicated than merely beautiful. She's intelligent and subtle, and, as Lydecker tells McPherson, she has a way of listening which makes a man feel like he's the only man in the world. But she lives for herself, too, in a way which I think the 1950s tried to force out of women's lives: she works for herself, to pay for a rich enjoyment of life, and any success belongs absolutely to her.
McPherson was already reaching - up out of his poverty-stricken past, his cop-past, his grim assumptions about `dames' and `dolls' - and in finding Laura - first existing only as a dead memory - he finds the thing he has been reaching for all this time. Their mutual isolation - he as hunter, and she as, in some way, hunted, in a world which distrusts them both - makes them dear to each other, right in the midst of the suspicion under which she labours in all their eyes. This is how I like my love stories - a little murky or dark, a little a bit off - not "hundred per cent" as Lydecker says. The plot twists and twists again, and spirals to a melodramatic finale. Who knows if Laura and Mark glide off into a perfect future together? - I suspect not. His lifetime's conditioning about women will kick in, and she'll kick back. But they'll have a chance - and that's as good as it gets in a world where you can't control the motivations of the people around you.
If you're tired of reading about women's shoes and handbags, or if the latest crime publication seems a bit empty and formulaic, it's time you rediscovered this.
This is not one of these. Though classified as pulp. this is a wonderful character study of a detective story. The plot is absorbing, the mystery is enchanting and I was kept guessing, but the real genius here is in Caspary's character development. Each character is given a voice, and their lives are detailed enough so that you feel as if you can see them. In every case, the interplay between the characters makes the story multi-dimensional, gripping, and beyond expectations.
I don't find many books that keep me up at night, reading through slitted eyes that want to close. Or, at least, not many that I am able to remember the plots as I doze in and out, struggling to keep reading. This book did. And bravo to Caspary for making Laura a complex, strong, stand-alone character, not just a hanger for clothing. She was one of the first who did in this genre, and she did it fantastically well. Now I have to get "Bedelia" by the same author. I can't wait.